If you have an outstanding warrant in Florida it is usually a good idea to deal with it sooner rather than later. It is not only a psychological relief, but it is also much more convenient and less embarrassing to resolve an outstanding warrant voluntarily than to be caught off guard and taken to jail without any forewarning or preparation.
As a threshold matter, you may suspect there is a warrant for your arrest but you may not be absolutely certain. If that is your situation, you have several options to use in trying to determine your warrant status. First, you can visit The Florida Crime Information Database website. The database contains Florida warrant information as reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) by law enforcement agencies throughout the state and authorized for release to the public.
Beware, however, the database does not reflect every warrant pending in the state. Therefore, if your name does not appear on the database that does not definitely mean there is no pending warrant for your arrest in Florida. Further, even if your name does appear in the database, you should verify the warrant with your local law enforcement agency, as the warrant may no longer be active. Also, although unlikely, there is a possibility that a warrant contains your name or other identifying information due to the use of false information by the true subject of the warrant.
If your name does not appear in the Florida Crime Information Database, you can try searching by county. At the county level, you can inquire with the county sheriff and with the county clerk of court. The Fourth Judicial Circuit encompasses the greater Jacksonville area and includes Duval, Nassau and Clay Counties. Unfortunately, unlike many other Florida counties including Miami Dade, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties, the sheriffs in Duval, Nassau or Clay counties do not provide outstanding warrant information on their website. Rather, the sheriffs in these three counties suggest you personally appear at their headquarters to inquire about your warrant status. For obvious reasons you may not wish to do so without first speaking with a lawyer.
Unlike the Duval, Nassau and Clay County Sheriffs, however, the St. Johns County Sheriff does provide warrant information on its website. Therefore, if you believe you have an active warrant in St. Johns County, you can verify it through their website.
And, depending on the nature of the warrant, you may be able to confirm it by inquiring with the Clerk of Court located in the county issuing the warrant. For example, warrants issued for failure to appear and for violations of probation may be verified on the various clerks’ websites around the state, including Duval, Nassau and Clay counties. You can also call the clerk to verify one of these types of warrants.
Finally, an alternative method of quickly checking to see whether there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest is to contact a local bail bond agency. Bail bondsmen are very adept at quickly verifying warrants. They can also determine whether you have a preset bond which may enable you voluntarily to arrange for a “walk through” voluntary surrender. That way you can pick the date to process into the jail instead of being caught off guard with a surprise arrest under potentially embarrassing circumstances. And, by voluntarily surrendering you will avoid changing into jail clothes, joining the general jail population or having to spend the night in jail while awaiting your first appearance the following day.
Thinking there may be an outstanding arrest warrant for your arrest and fearing the police might come to your door at any time is trying and stressful. If you have reason to believe there is an active warrant for your or a loved one’s arrest, in Duval, Clay, Nassau or St. Johns Counties, it is important to contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney knowledgeable about how best to confirm and then clear the warrant. Doing so will help resolve both the outstanding warrant and the underlying matter with no surprises so you can move on with your life without further worry.